Worth Forgiving

First of all, Janet, your title and cover are fabulous! If I had to pen your goal for this novel it’d go something like this. God’s love overrides our past failures and the injustices of life. By embracing his healing and guidance, we move out of the shadows into the light. Did I hit it pretty close?

Sounds good to me, Gail. My motto or tagline is “Writing with God’s Hope,” so all my books deal with addictions, compulsions, or hang-ups that can’t be healed without God. The first book in the series, Worth Her Weight, focuses on food addiction. Worth Forgiving hits drug addiction as well as prejudice against those who are ex-cons. The twelve step programs remind us we’re powerless over such thing. Like you said, only God’s love can override past failures and injustices. In this new book, we learn not only about forgiving others, but the difficulty in forgiving ourselves.

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 You have definitely mastered the art of piling troubles on your heroine! How did you learn to do that? 

I once took a course that reminded us to be “mean” to our characters. I guess that idea stuck. We must raise the stakes and make it even harder to reach our goal in order to accomplish a satisfactory ending.

Tell us about your intended audience. I’m assuming it’s Christian readers, mostly women? Do you have an underlying desire to create empathy in your readership for the down-and-out of our society? 

Oh, wow, Gail. You hit the nail on the head, to repeat an old, forbidden cliché. My target audience for both books in the series is women 25-50 with some church background. For thirty years of my life, I suffered from food addiction. I struggled with depression, and my self esteem hit bottom before I was ready to let go and let God.

Twenty years ago, God healed me emotionally. I am not the same person I was through my twenties, thirties, and forties. Through His guidance and grace, I lost one hundred pounds, quit biting my nails, and came out of the shadows to accomplish His purpose

Before I even lost all my weight, I began teaching weight controlling classes. I have a heart for those who fight food addiction or compulsive overeating. I am blessed that through my suffering, God gave me more empathy for those who suffer any addiction. Even when I’m not teaching, I have others who contact me for prayer or encouragement for their problems. I feel so blessed by God to be used in the thing that is my weakest area. Isn’t that just like God?

I haven’t read the first book in this series yet, but assume we get to know the heroine’s sister Lacey much better in that one. Which character do you identify with most? How did that character first occur to you?

I would have to say Lacey. Though Worth Her Weight isn’t my story, still Lacey coped with many things that I dealt with such as the suicide attempt. Despite that, I find that I can identify with others like Katie in Worth Forgiving who Satan has captured and built mental strongholds that only God can break.

Please tell us how creating the two books differed for you. I’m into writing a series, also, and it’s fun to hear more details about this process. 

The most fun part is visiting the old setting and old friends that you “met” while writing the first book.

The hardest part is that everything in one character’s life affects the other characters, so it’s imperative to keep good notes. Since Katie was in prison for three years, her four-year-old daughter would now be seven. Since Larry was injured in the crime that Katie perpetrated, I had to remember to give him a limp. Just stuff like that. Good, better, excellent notes, I hope. LOL!

Finally, give us a little background about YOU – how did you begin writing fiction, and what did you do before? 

I’ve always loved writing fiction. That’s my passion. When my daughters were little, I wrote and sold a few short stories. However, I settled into a writing career after I retired in 2006 from being a bookkeeper and medical coder.

I had finished ten novels by the time I received my first contract. All were adult fiction, except for one young adult, and that’s what sold first. Victoria and the Ghost debuted in 2012.

Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness was God’s surprise, my one and only, so far, non-fiction. He woke me up one night and gave me fourteen devotions to help overeaters. I thought it was just to help me, but four years and three hundred and sixty-five devotions later, both Pen-L Publishing and myself believed it was a tool to help others. Later, this year, they will release a workbook to compliment the devotion book, so my non-fiction days aren’t completely over. Neither are my fiction days, because the third in the Wharton Rock series should release in 2017.

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Worth Forgiving Second in the Wharton Rock Series

Prejudice and mistrust hinder an ex-con, drug addict’s new beginning. The state of Texas releases from prison Katie Smith. Full of optimism, she sets out to get a job, rent her own place, and make a home for her eight-year-old daughter, but Katie gave away her daughter three years ago. She could use a friend, but her past choices threaten to doom her to continued failure.

Larry Pullman graduated from seminary with high marks, but having no wife makes finding a preaching job almost impossible. It doesn’t help that running from God as a teenager gave him a past he can’t undo. All he needs is an ex-con, drug addict messing up his life, but then why did God lead him to her? Or did He?

Isn’t it enough that Lacey Chandler gave her sister’s daughter a home? Does that mean she has to clean up Katie’s messes forever?

Could it be that Katie is not Worth Forgiving?

PURCHASE LINK: Worth Forgiving

Janet is giving away an e-book of Worth Forgiving to one commenter here. Thanks so much for your visit, Janet. 

Have You Opened the Gift of Grace? – August 22, 2016

Welcome to Lucinda Secrest McDowell, author of “Dwelling Places.”

She writes about the marvels of the gift of grace

Best gift I ever received.

Grace. In fact, it quite literally changed my life.

Sadly I had been a Christ follower for many years before I actually opened this precious gift I’d been carrying around. I never understood that grace was God’s gift we don’t deserve and can never earn.

So I kept trying to please God and get everything ‘just right’ so that He might love me more and consider me worthy. Striving was my dwelling place and despair was my landing place every time I failed at perfection. Until one day, in His mercy, God stooped down (the Hebrew word for grace means “to stoop”) and lifted me up.

He reminded me that I am already loved, already accepted, already chosen for kingdom work — not because of anything I have done — but simply because I am His own. And that, dear friend, is the Gift of Grace.

Because we live in a world of reward and punishment, it is difficult to grasp the idea of receiving something we don’t deserve. And yet that’s the very nature of grace as Paul explains, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”(Ephesians 2:8-9)

Perhaps this acronym says it best – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Jesus willingly gave up His life on the cross and rose from the grave so that we would be set free from sin, death and the enemy of our souls.

Frederich Buechner explains “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you will reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”

I used to dwell in a place of judgment, performance, rules, hurry and approval. Nothing was enough. I could never rest; there was always, always more to do. Grace reminds me that my love and the outpouring of my life for the kingdom flow from knowing with confidence that, though I am not worthy, as God’s child I am totally received and loved.

Out of that I pour myself at Jesus’ feet every morning, asking “How can I spread Your grace to others today?”

Do you need more grace in your life? The great news is it is already here for you if you are a child of the King. Just like when I’m home in the South and order a big breakfast at the diner. When I choose bacon and eggs on the menu, the plate always arrives with grits as well. “Honey, you don’t have to special order grits, down here they just come with!” the waitress cheerfully explains.

Grace ‘comes with’ your commitment to Christ. So, open the gift and dwell in the love. Then, be sure and pass it along to others.

©2016 Excerpted from “Dwelling Places” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell (Abingdon Press, 2016)

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Lucinda Secrest McDowell is passionate about embracing life — both through deep soul care from drawing closer to God, as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she offers “Encouraging Words” to all on the journey. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, Cindy is the author of twelve books, including Dwelling Places, Live These Words, Refresh!, Amazed by Grace, Quilts from Heaven and Role of a Lifetime. Whether co-directing the “New England Christian Writers Retreat,” mentoring young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Cindy’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things. She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at EncouragingWords.net

Please leave a comment for Cindy to qualify for her giveaway drawing of one signed copy of Dwelling Places.

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Oh MY!

Tonight when my husband and I returned from a walk at the close of this rainy Iowa day, we were looking up at the roof for some reason, and I spotted something that looked like a bird…sort of. But bigger.

Lance is nothing if he’s not persevering. He hung out until he captured an image of the creature…I can’t believe it! We have cardinals, house wrens, hummingbirds, and of course, crows in our yard. But this…never thought I’d see the like. Not here in our yard.

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Isn’t this the cutest baby owl? I’ve never spied one before, and this one added excitement to a rather gloomy, although productive day here in the Midwest. I’m a lot like my fiction characters, I guess – it doesn’t take a whole lot to make my day.

And this experience also goes to show that you can enjoy someone else’s hobby almost as much as you enjoy your own. Barn owls have made appearances in my historical fiction, and this little one…oh yes, you can bet she (or he) will pop up somewhere in a future story.

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It really doesn’t get much better than that for a photographer. My husband, a patient guy, has become a walker, after years of running. And on his walks, he captures some amazing shots. So I’m sharing them here today, just because I can – and because they may brighten someone’s day or week.

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Behold an Iowa evening sky at its finest. My heroines would take heart from  such a vision, especially during their worst times, when all seems lost and futile.

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Here’s another – words fail me, as they often do at something truly beautiful. And it’s good to note that this was actually quite a stormy night.

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Adjectives… gorgeous, spectacular, stellar. Heartening to remember that in life’s storms, there’s light, though we may have to wait for it to peep through the clouds.

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Way to go, Lance. Thanks for the beauty.

An Adirondack Historical Romance Author

I’d like to introduce the Amazon Top Ten bestselling historical romance author of the Women of Surprise series. Tracey Lyon sold her first book on 9/9/99! Her books have been translated into several languages and are available in print, digital and audio formats.

Tracey lives with her husband in New York’s Hudson Valley region. She has appeared on the award winning Cox Cable Television show, Page One and on the stage of Lady Jane’s reading salon in New York City. She holds membership in Romance Writers of America and American Fiction Christian Writers and Novelists Inc.

A true upstate New Yorker, Tracey believes you should write what you know. Her historical romances are all set in the New York State area. Tracey considers herself a small town gal who writes small town romances. You can learn more about Tracey and her books by visiting her website at www.traceylyons.com.

So, Tracey, tell us a bit about the Adirondacks.

I love this area of New York State. We used to vacation there when our children were little. It’s a place that’s far away from the maddening crowds of downstate NY!

When you arrive it’s like all of your troubles disappear. I love setting my books in the mountain regions of my home state. Did you know the Adirondack park is the largest National park?

I didn’t – fun to learn something new. Tell us about your latest release, please.

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When schoolteacher Elsie Mitchell meets rugged William Benton on a train platform in Albany, it appears they have nothing in common. He isn’t the sort of fellow a proper young woman of the 1890s would ever speak to, much less become involved with. But when she arrives at her small town in the Adirondack Mountains, Elsie is offered a job as caregiver for this mysterious out-of-towner’s niece and nephew, who’ve been tragically orphaned. Heartbroken for them, she accepts.
Unknown to her, William is an undercover Pinkerton agent posing as a lumber-company foreman. He’s never wanted family—his work is too dangerous. Yet as Elsie transforms his house into a home and he spends time with the children, he feels drawn to family life—and to Elsie.
As a good Christian, Elsie is troubled by William’s secrets…though she does find him intriguing. And when a sinister figure from her past arrives, Elsie and William will have to trust in faith and newfound love to protect their unlikely family from danger.

Buy link https://www.amazon.com/Changed-Agent-Tracey-J-Lyons-ebook/dp/B01AI1UUIM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1467816680&sr=1-1&keywords=a+changed+agent#navbar

Social Media links
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TraceyJLyonsAuthor/
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/traceyjlyons/
Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/Tracey-J.-Lyons
Twitter: @traceyjlyons

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Tracey’s giving away one commenter’s choice of print (US only) or Kindle edition of A Changed Agent. The winner of this novel will be notified in one week.

Amazon best selling historical romance author

http://www.traceylyons.com/

Small town sweet historical romance
A Changed Agent Waterfall Press July 2016

Mid-July Days

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July – a time for butterflies … and humidity. Ah, how does one describe such a phenomenon? In In Times Like These, Addie’s worst times occurred in winter, and in spite of Iowa’s sticky July and August, her garden and friendship carried her through.

December through March, though, the weather forced her husband Harold inside more often, increasing the chances of him having a temper tantrum.

We have a cute five-year-old visiting us right now, with as much energy as corn has kernels. Interesting how a child can make you feel young again as you share his three-foot view of the world. But at the same time, you realize how creaky your joints have become and how desperate you are for a real live nap.

 

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Back in 1942, Addie adored her rural mailman’s little grandson Willie–the sweetest little guy ever. Ahhh…..what enormous brown eyes and  that precocious smile! But one day, he wandered away and ended up in the cornfield, a true farm danger.

It all worked out, but today, with a sauna just outside our door, even at six in the morning, I can almost feel the corn leaves rustling against Willie’s face, And so it is, July in Iowa. IMG_9406 IMG_9410

Through Raging Waters

This week, I’m delighted to introduce Renee Blare, author of The Snowy River Chronicles. 

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Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and she’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.

Nestled in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains with her husband, crazy dogs and ornery cat, she continues to serve her community as a pharmacist while penning her Christian stories any chance she can get.

Reading some comments about Renee Blare’s novel entices me:

Raging Waters is indeed a wonderful read and I also highly recommend To Soar on Eagle’s Wings. So hurry and catch up—I’m waiting for Book Three! – DiAne Gates, Author of Roped

Once again, Renee Blare has delivered a powerful and suspenseful romantic novel. Readers and lovers of such will not be disappointed at her writing talent. – Carole Brown, Award-winning Author

Book Two of the Snowy Range Chronicles launches July 8, 2016 –  TODAY!! and propels the series upward to new heights. Suspense takes
on new meaning as the small town of Timber Springs faces the storm of the century during the peak of spring runoff. Paul Fitzgerald and Melissa Hampton must fight the battle of their lives as thunder and lightning reveal more than just rain.

If Mother Nature has her way, Timber Springs will never be the same… 

A warm spring and early rainstorms melt the snowpack. Spring runoff compounded by the storm of the century sends Timber Springs into a tailspin. 
Tossed into the role of rescuer, local pharmacist Paul Fitzgerald must face his past before the whole world falls apart. While he fights to contain the beast around him, he finds his steadfast control slipping through his fingers. And life…everyone’s life…hangs by a thread once again.

Melissa Hampton has her own demons to battle. After she learns of her mysterious beginnings amidst her mother’s keepsakes, she faces more than just the river rushing outside her door. Now, she must discern friend from foe…but as waters rise and tension climbs within Timber Springs, she needs to rise to the challenge or lose the only man she’s ever loved. 

Can two people find each other through raging waters?

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/tE055Wyzaso

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Through-Raging-Waters-Renee-Blare-ebook/dp/B01HBSB9BM/
(shortened) http://amzn.to/28NQIF3

Renee is giving away one free kindle copy of her novel to a commenter.

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Renee loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media.

Website: http://www.reneeblare.com/
Blog: http://reneeblare.blogspot.com/
Group Blog: http://diamondsinfiction.blogspot.com/

Singing her heart out

 

The wren out in our lilac bushes sings from the highest place she can find, and nothing’s stopping her. It’s incredible how consistently she lends her cheerful voice to her surroundings.

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Not many feet distant, our delphinium daily shows more color. We’ve been keeping track of this plant’s emersion into a full blues and purple salute.The gradual ascent of pigment (if that’s what it’s called in plant life) delights me. But the key word is gradual, from all-white buds to this: 

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Change sometimes comes suddenly in our lives, but other times, creeps along slowly, so that we hardly notice.  Last night a friend said, “I’m not much of a reader, and especially not during the summer, but I couldn’t put In Times Like These down.”

Wow – considering how long and hard I worked to express Addie’s slow transformation in the backdrop of  World War II, that made my day. Or week…or month!

To Addie, who felt hemmed in and hopeless at times, change couldn’t come fast enough. But it bided its time – as occurs so often does with us. Ooh…but look … this morning, the color has spread farther for Delphie, which is what I’ve started calling my delphinium.

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Meanwhile, our little wren keeps singing her heart out.

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She puts all of herself into her tune. That’s what Addie did, too – her daily chicken chores, gardening, kitchen work, and even unexpected caregiving to an elderly WWI veteran strengthened her during the gradual ascent of her strength. And looking back, we can see that in our “keeping on,” we become more colorful, more empowered. That’s encouragement for today!

 

Good morning, sunshine!

A quiet Sunday morning, but after a great rain last night, our plants are grinning all over the porch and deck.

Geraniums garner fresh sunshine . . . the plant on the right has TWELVE blossoms right now.

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Rosemary and basil greet us . . .

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Petunias and johnny jump-ups join in.

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Yesterday the first edits for A Purpose True, the sequel to Addie’s story, arrived. A time to pay attention to details, to make things better, to brighten the world around us, and to enjoy the process.

Already, tomato blossoms promise a fruitful summer . . . what more could we ask?